At 6’4, 170, Victor Bailey does not look like the typical high school freshman.
He doesn’t play like one, either.
The McNeil guard scored 15 or more points in nearly half the games of his first season at the varsity level – and he’s just getting started. Bailey comes from a storied athletic background. His father, Victor Sr., was a wide receiver at the University of Missouri and played three years in the NFL. His mother, Tonja Buford-Bailey, won a bronze medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles.
After serving as head coach of the women’s track and field team at the University of Illinois, Tonja accepted a position as an assistant coach with the University of Texas track team last June.
Her son’s arrival to McNeil immediately elevated the Mavericks’ potential, and the young prospect made a positive impact by leading the team to a third-place finish in District 16-5A during his debut season.
With his early success, Bailey has already caught the attention of major recruiting sites who have him ranked as one of the top players in the class of 2017.
Although expectations are sky-high, Bailey said he is focused solely on playing the game.
“I’m just playing basketball,” he said. “There isn’t anything more than that. I’m just doing what I love and whatever comes along with it, comes along with it. But for right now, I’m focused on playing basketball and that’s it.”
The lefty guard dazzled opposing coaches with his combination of speed, handles, scoring range and pure athletic ability.
When he first arrived at McNeil, however, Bailey said there were plenty of things to work on that his coaches helped fix to propel him to another level.
“When I first came into the program, when I played, I just played really fast,” he said. “I didn’t really have a change of pace. They (McNeil coaches Darrell Hagemann and Cory Shrader) kind of helped me with that change of pace and slowing down some of the time. I didn’t turn the ball over as much as I probably did in my eighth grade year.”
Even with the progress he has made in his game, Bailey said he wants to work on a few other things to get where he wants to be.
“I want to work on getting stronger,” he said. “I want to get a little bit stronger because I’m going up against older guys, so I want to be able to match their strength, match their intensity and stuff like that.”
Bailey said he is hoping his efforts in the offseason benefit his Mavericks team next season after falling short of a district title last year and making an early first-round exit in the playoffs. “We lost District,” he said. “I’m trying to get a District Championship and last longer in the playoffs than we did.”
This summer, Bailey said he will attend multiple camps before joining his AAU team, Texas Select. If he continues progressing his skill set while adding to his frame, the possibilities are endless for the freshman sensation.
But if you ask Bailey how high his potential really is, he’ll humbly respond that predicting the future is out of his jurisdiction.
“Nobody knows but God,” he said. “I’m just going to try to work as hard as possible and whatever comes from that work, that’s what I get.”